By Durwydd MacTara
My RELIGION is Wicca, my LIFE-STYLE is Witchcraft! I believe in
a supreme being that is both Immanent and Transcendent, that is
expressing itself within AND without. However, I also believe that
trying to define/describe such an infinite Divine Being in finite
terms to be a waste of time and energy. I CAN describe my perceptions
of the Ultimate in terms of the energies that I work with and find
significant in my daily living. My style and methods of relating to
what I can perceive of these Divine Energies are what I describe as my
RELIGION. How I apply these insights gained via my religious prac-
tices, I term my CRAFT.
The name for my religion is derived from the Saxon root "wicce"
(pronounced "witchy") and is loosely translated as "Wise". The word
"Wicca" was first used in modern times in England by Gerald B. Gardner
to describe/define an attempt at restoring "the old wisdom" of pre-
Christian beliefs and practice into a modern context in the 1940's.
Ergo, I could call my religion "wisdom" and my style of application of
this wisdom "wise-craft" or more simply, "The Craft of the Wise".
For the sake of convenience and easy understanding, I divide the
expressions of the Divine Energies into two groups; that of the active
positive (symbolically "male") energies represented to me by the stag
horned Lord of the Forest, and those of a more passive, nurturing, or
"negative" polarity represented to me by the Threefold Goddess.
Approaching my perceptions of the universe and its energies in this
way allows me to break them down into "bite sized chunks", applicable
to my daily life in a mundane world, and what good is ANY belief
system if it is not of immediate and practical use here and now?
So what are some of the beliefs and practices of this religion
called Wicca, and how do I apply them to my daily life? What does it
all mean? The following explanation is based on a press statement
released by the American Council of Witches released in the early
1970's, with some editing on my part to reflect my own beliefs and
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE CRAFT
1. The first principle is that of love, and it is expressed in the
"AN IT HARM NONE, DO AS THOU WILL"
a) love is not emotional in it's essence, but is an
attribute of the individual as expressed in relation
to other beings;
b) harming others can be by thought, word, or deed.
Thought is included here, because for the Witch,
"thoughts are things" and every action, even thoughts,
can become magical actions, whether consciously intended
c> it is to be understood the "none" includes oneself,
though it is permissable to harm self in helping others,
should one so choose;
d) the harm which is to be regarded as unethical is
gratuitous harm; war, in general, is gratuitous harm,
although it is ethical to defend oneself and one's
liberty when threatened by real and present danger,
such as personal defense or defense of another WHEN REQUESTED.
2. The Witch must recognize and harmonize with the forces of the
universe, in accord with the Law of Polarity: everything is dual;
everything has two poles; everything has it's opposite; for every
action there is a reaction; all can be categorized as either active or
reactive in relation to other things.
a) The Infinite and Ultimate Godhead is one unique and
transcendent wholeness, beyond any limitations or expressions;
thus, it is beyond our human capacity to understand and identify
with this principle of Cosmic Oneness, except as It is
revealed to us in terms of It's attributes and operation.
b) One of the most basic and meaningful attribute of the One
that we, as humans, can relate to and understand, is
that of polarity, of action and reaction; therefore
Witches recognize the Oneness of the Divinity, but
worship and relate to the Divine as the archetypal
polarity of God and Goddess, the All-Father and the
Great Mother of the universe. The Beings are as near as
we can approach to the One within our human limitations
of understanding and expression, though it is possible to
experience the divine Oneness through the practices of the
c) Harmony does not consist of the pretty and the nice,
but the balanced, dynamic, poised co-operation and
3. The Witch must recognize, and operate within the framework of
the Law of Cause and Effect; every action has it's reaction, and
every effect has it's cause. All things occur according to this law;
nothing in the universe can occur outside this law, though we may not
always appreciate the relation between a given effect and it's cause.
Subsidiary to this is the Law of Three, which states that whatever
goes forth must return threefold, whether of good or ill; for our
actions affect more than people generally realize, and the resulting
reactions are also part of the harvest.
4. As Above, So Below. That which exists in the Macrocosm exists, on
a smaller scale and to a lesser degree, in the Microcosm. The powers
of the universe exist also in the human, though in general instance
lie dormant. The powers and abilities can be awakened and used if the
proper techniques are practiced, and this is why initiates of the
Mysteries are sworn to guard the secrets from the unworthy: Much harm
can be done by those who have power without responsibility, both to
others and to themselves according to the Laws of Cause and Effect and
of Threefold Return.
a) Since our philosophy teaches that the universe is the
physical manifestation of the Divine, there can be
nothing in the universe which does not partake of the
nature of the Divine; hence, the powers and attributes
of the Divine exist also in the manifest, though to much
b) These powers can be awakened through the various
techniques of the Mysteries, and, although they are only
capable of small effects in and of themselves, it is
possible to use them in order to draw upon the forces of
the universe. Thus humanity can be the wielders of the
power of the Gods, a channel for Godhead to act within
It's own manifestation. This, many feel, is further reason
for the oath of secrecy.
c) Since the universe is the body of the One, possessing
many of the same attributes as the One, it's Laws must be the
principles through and by which the One operates. By
reasoning from the known to the unknown, one can learn
of the Divine, and thus of oneself. By experiencing the Mysteries
a person can truly LEARN more about the One. Thus the Craft is a
natural religion as well as a MYSTERY religion, seeing in Nature
the expression and revelation of Divinity.
5. We know that everything in the universe is in movement or vibration
and is a function of that vibration. Everything vibrates; all things
rise and fall in a tidal system that reflects the motion inherent in
the universe and also in the atom. Matter and energy are but two
poles of one continuous phenomenon. Therefore the Witch celebrates,
harmonizes with, and makes use of the tides of the universe and of
life as expressed through the cycle of the seasons and the motion of
the solar system. These ritual observances are the eight great
Festivals of the Year, referred to as the Wheel of the Year. Further,
the Witch works with the forces and tides of the Moon, for this body
is the mediator of much energy to our planet Earth and thus to oursel-
6. Nothing is dead matter in the universe. All things exist,
therefore all things live, though perhaps in a different manner from
that which we are used to calling life. In view of this, the Witch
knows that there is no true death, only change from one condition to
another. The universe is the body of Godhead, and therefore
possesses one transcendent consciousness; all things partake of the
consciousness, in varying levels of trance/awareness.
a) Because of this principle, all things are sacred to
the Witch, for all partake of the one Life.
b) Therefore the Witch is a natural ecologist, for Nature
is part of us as we are a part of Nature.
7. Throughout the development of the human race, civilizations have
seen and worshipped many and various attributes of the Divine. These
universal forces have been clothed in forms which were expressive to
the worshipper of the attribute of the Godhead which they expressed.
Use of these symbolic representations of the natural and divine forces
of the universe, or god forms, is a potent method for contacting and
utilizing the forces they represent. Thus the Gods are both natural
and truly divine, and man-made in that the forms with which they are
clothed are products of humanity's striving to know the Godhead.
a) In keeping with the Law of Polarity, these god-forms
are brought into harmony by the one great Law which
states: All Gods are one God. All Goddesses are one
Goddess. There is one Initiator. This law is an
expression of our understanding that all of the forces of
the universe, by whatever ethnic god-form is chosen to
clothe and relate to whichever force, can be resolved
into the fundamental polarity of the Godhead, the Great
Mother and the All-Father.
b) It is the use of differing god forms, of differing
ethnic sources or periods, which is the basis of many of
the differences between the various Traditions of the
Craft. Each Tradition uses the forms, and thus the names,
which to that Tradition best express and awaken an
understanding of the force represented, according to the
areas of emphasis of the Tradition.
c) Because we know that differing names or
representations are but expressions of the same divine
principles and forces, we require our members to swear
that they will never mock the names by which another
honors the Divine, even though those names be different
from and seemingly less expressive than the names and god
forms used by our Tradition (for to the members of
another Tradition, using it's names, ours may easily seem
equally less expressive).
8. A Witch refuses to allow her/himself to be corrupted by the great
guilt neuroses which have been foisted on humanity in the name of the
Divine, thus freeing the self of the slavery of the mind. The Witch
expresses responsibility for her/his actions, and accepts the conse-
quences of them; guilt is rejected as inhibiting to one's self-actual-
ization, and replaced by the efforts of the Witch to obey the teach-
ings of harmlessness, responsibility for the consequences of one's
actions, and the goal of actualizing the full powers of the individ-
a) We refuse to believe that a human being is born
innately sinful, and recognize the concepts of sin and
guilt are tremendously inhibiting to the human potential;
the consequences of the Law of Cause and Effect, called
karma by some, are not punishment, but the recurrences of
situations and their effects because the individual has
not gained the Wisdom needed to handle or avoid such
b) There is no heaven except that which we ourselves make
of our life on Earth, and likewise there is no hell
except the effects of our unwise actions. Many of us believe
in a "waiting place" sometimes called Summerland where we rest,
recuperate and prepare for our next sojurn in the earth. "Death
is not followed by punishment or reward, but by life and the
continuing personal evolution of our human potential.
c) One cannot damn the divine in oneself; one can,
however, cut oneself off from it through the rejection of
wisdom and a refusal to strive for self-realization.
This cutting off does not lead to personal suffering in
"hell", for there is no Self to suffer if the tie to
one's own divinity has been severed; what remains is
merely an empty shell, a "personality" or thought-form
devoid of it's ensouling Spark of the Divine Fire.
9. We know of the existence of the life-force which ensouls all
living things, that is, all that exists. We know that a spark of
this Divine Fire is within each and every thing that exists, and that
it does not die; only the form of it's existence changes. We know that
this spark of the life-force returns to manifestation again and again
in order to fully realize and actualize it's potential, evolving
finally to the peak and essence of existence which is pure being. In
this process of reincarnation each form returns in the same type of
form, though it's ever-increasing actualization may lead to higher
levels of existence of that form. Man returns as man, cat as feline,
mineral as mineral, each class of form evolving as the individual
forms of that class evolve.
10. This process of evolution through successive incarnations in
manifest form works through the utilizations of wisdom gained, the
essence of the life-experience. This essence of experience, or Wisdom,
is an attribute of the spark of life itself, one and inseparable.
11. We must care for the body, for it is the vehicle of the spark of
life, the form by which we attain. Thus we must heal the body of it's
ills and keep it a tuned and perfected tool; so must we heal others
(both physically and psychologically) as far as it is within our power
to do so. However, we cannot interfere with the life of another, even
to heal, except at their request or with their express permission.
The reasoning behind this apparent limitation is that we are endowed
with Free Will, and what the Gods themselves hesitate to infringe
upon, is best left alone by us "mere" mortals.
13. Harmony with, and utilization of, the great natural forces of the
universe is called magick. By magick we speak, not of the super-
natural, but of the superbly natural, but whose laws and applications
are not as yet recognized by the scientific establishment. The Witch
must strive to recognize these forces, learn their laws, attune
her/himself to them, and make use of them. The Witch must also be
aware that power corrupts when used _only_ for the gains of the self,
and therefore must strive to serve humanity: Either through the
service in the Priesthood, or by example and effects of his/her life
on others. The choice must be made in accord with the true nature of
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